A.P. Custard, sometime guest editor of Kiwi, sent us this report
“All eight sitting ready, this is it guys, we’re going to do it…”
In the crisp blue sky and golden sunshine of a Cambridge winter morning, the grizzled (sorry Penny & Clare) veterans of Selwyn’s Alumni VIII wound it to 30 once more, in aid of the Boat House appeal.
Form and fitness found for the Boston Marathon and honed over three outings since, they would now be tested not just against the ravages of time and un-reliability of memory but other invitational and, most worryingly, current college crews. A rolling start from Jesus flagpole may not provoke in Boaties of any age the pavlovian, pulse-quickening reaction of hearing the Bumps’ one minute canon, but, by then, the realisation had dawned on even the most gung-ho of them that 4300m was quite a long way and might be quite hard work…
Any hope they would be an endearing novelty was not to be; there is already a growing body of other alumni crews: Black Prince (First & Third), Lord Protector (Sidney Sussex), Cross Keys (Peterhouse), Crustaceans (Christ’s), to name a few –they were a lone mixed crew in a sea (well, river) of MAMILs and EMILs (elderly men in lycra)…
Unsparingly coxed by current SCBC overall captain, Teresa Baron, who steered a fine racing line, the stern pair of youth and experience in Robin Hellen and Huw Champion, middle four of Alex Goold, Hugh Wood, Richard Ingram and immediate past SCBC captain, Nick Jones, in the ejector seat, and the bow pair of Clare Heppenstall and Penelope Jarrett, had what can only be described as a very solid, very gutsy and very committed race, from start to finish. Ably supported by the all ginger bank party of John Pritchard and Jeremy Broadis, they powered 10 for Selwyn before winding again at the P&E, powered 10 at the Railway Bridge to “seriously gun it” along the Reach, before winding again at the Plough, giving it one more power 10 for First Post Corner and leaving it all out on the water by the Motorway Bridge –luckily, they also kept going for the finish at the Little Bridge!
15th out of 16 invitational crews tells only part of the story. With a time of 17 mins 44 (avg 2.03.7) and a very strong field, (fastest men’s VIII 13 mins 49, slowest women’s VIII at 19 mins 46), they can feel justifiably proud even to be mixing it in such elite company.
“A massive well done, you really kept it together; that was so impressive…”
I’m betting they’ll be back next year.
Here is our heroes’ crew list:
Teresa Baron (current Overall Captain)
Alexander Goold(SE 1989)
Huw Champion (SE 1966) Robin Hellen (SE 2003)
Nick Jones (SE 2015 tbc)
Clare Heppenstall (SE 1984)
Penelope Jarrett(SE 1980)
Hugh Wood (SE 1988)
Richard Ingram (SE 1988) John Pritchard (SE 1988)
Jeremy Broadis (SE 1988) all photo credits to you! THANKS!
In August, a brave group of intrepid alumni ventured to foreign waters to take part in Peterborough regatta. This was a 4-lane, side-by-side race over 500m. We had originally entered 5 boats, but sadly the regatta was over-subscribed and our mixed events were canceled. Nonetheless, everyone (except Harry ‘I’ll only row if there are women’ Robinson) got to row – in a women’s IV+, men’s IV+ and men’s plus Lizzy VIII+.
The most experienced explorers were there a night early for a camp-out and practice paddle. One of our group was tragically stranded on the German autobahn, and another two delayed ’til the morn by the complex workings of the eastern railways network. Though we were obviously devastated, it was perhaps a good thing that we didn’t have to fit 4 into Chris’s misleadingly named ‘4 man’ tent.
Once we had set up tent, we were straight out in the mixed IV+ for some serious training. Lizzy ‘4 points’ Johnstone insisted that she was the best choice for stroke, backed up by Chris ‘Casanova’ Cottingham, Chris ‘ARA member’ Vaquero, Harry ‘I’ll only row if there are women in the boat’ Robinson, and coxed by Emily ‘which way is it’ Hopkinson. Accompanied by tribal beats from the bank, we wound it up to 42 and quickly settled to 26. Several attempts and a mutiny later, we replaced the settle with a push and tricked Lizzy into maintaining a reasonable rate. Satisfied with our start, we headed back to dry land to be reunited with Emma ‘cowgirl’ Dalman and Peter ‘Putney’ Jones.
One terrifying car journey later, we were equipped with barbecues, burgers and buns.* Rigger jiggers and adjustable spanners proved ideal cooking utensils, and we only had one complaint from fellow campers about creating too much smoke. (At the time we blamed Asda’s cheapo barbecues, but looking back at the pictures it may have had something to do with the high charcoal content of our culinary delights.)
As an ideal end to the evening, Pete turned recruiter and got Super Sub Clemmie from Putney to replace Autobahn Moira in the women’s IV+. As a less ideal continuation of the evening, we were woken up at 2am by someone called Robbie weeing on our tents.
Our first race kicked off at 9.20am. The men’s IV+ was made up of Chris and Chris, joined by ‘Little Dave’ Barton, ‘Big Dave’ Lambert, and Will ‘thank god he’s not called Chris or Dave’ McDermott. To the shock of the crowds (and not least to me, who had told Nines that we’d only need to borrow their boat once), we achieved a comfortable victory. Chris and Chris looked wistfully at the 30 pints they’d bought the night before, working out they’d never sober up in time to drive home after the semi finals.
W-Pro was the second boat to race. Lizzy, Emma and Emily were joined by Super Sub Clemmie and Ellie ‘I hope she knows how good we are’ Healey. Discounting the boat that came first, we won our heat and got through to the reparchage.
Unfortunately, W-Pro had not had the foresight to ask Super Sub Clemmie if she was free for round 2. It turned out she might be in different race ten minutes later and so we went on the hunt for a reserve sub. Super Sub Stina from Clare agreed to be on stand-by. We were delighted to see that both our Super Subs got through to the singles reparchage as this would be an excellent test of their abilities. However, reality soon struck – this was the race that was ten minutes after our own. Eventually we found a reserve reserve sub in the form of Super Sub Julia from FaT and had some cake to celebrate.
By this time, it was the turn of AluminVIII. The Men’s IV were joined by Donal ‘alumni’ Gorman, Lizzy ‘4 points’ Johnstone, and the fashionably late Nick ‘Gucci’ Jones and Ali ‘Prada’ Philpott. Approaching the start line we noticed some of the other crews also had “men” in their two seats, but as ‘4 points’ Johnstone significantly out-gunned them in the bicep department we were feeling pretty confident (shush, I know she also out-gunned the rest of our crew). The heat was again successful, with AluminVIII coming home 2nd and qualifying for the final. She does have 4 points you know.
Despite legs now starting to ache quite badly and desire for burgers and ice cream overcoming any real will to win, the men’s IV rather stupidly came first in the semi-final, qualifying fastest for the final later in the afternoon. Chris ‘ARA membership’ Vaquero and Chris ‘Casanova’ Cottingham now had to accept that the only remaining use for their 30 beers was as a seat in wait of the next race.
W-Pro’s second race was less splashy and on the whole felt a lot more elite. We however came ‘4th of 4’. Looking at the finish times we were shocked to find out that the other crews had not got inexplicably faster, and despite being more elite, we were actually slower second time round. Though slightly disheartened that it was probably just Super Sub Clemmie dragging us down the course for our first race, we quickly consoled ourselves with smoothies, ice-creams and the happy thought that we’d no longer have to stay for the 6pm final.
Whether a sign of old age or a sign that I should have really written this race report a lot earlier, at this point my memory gets rather blurry. Both AluminVIII and the men’s IV came within a canvas of the winning spot in their finals to finish in a safe second place. On reflection, it was very thoughtful of them to hold back at the end and avoid picking up points so that we could all enter again next year. After all, I’m not sure the world could cope with a Lizzy ‘5 points’ Johnstone!
Please do get in touch if you’d like to take part in the next alumni race. We’re hoping to do something on cam – perhaps Pembroke regatta or City Sprints. Maybe we could pick up some shiny shiny things to drink our beers from afterwards next time. Email Emily on firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Top tip: DO NOT get in a car with Chris Vaquero. Unless you think it’s ok to drive at 40 round a supermarket car park.
(M1 – Tit Hall, Churchill, Selwyn sandwich – so close!)
No bumps for S.C.B.C. today sadly, but things are looking promising for the final day thanks to the groundwork laid down today.
M4, freshly arrived in Divison 5 after yesterday’s bump on Homerton, found themselves chasing Corpus III but with a keen Clare V now in sandwich boat position behind them. A strong start saw them gain on Corpus, but quite soon afterwards the division was halted due to carnage ahead. A re-row was announced for Selwyn, Corpus and Clare only and this time Corpus hit a much stronger start. They now had a clean-water advantage as well, and held Selwyn off much better. Clare pushed up and eventually got the bump just on First Post Corner. A disappointing day, and a return to sandwich boat position for M4, but another chance to re-enter Division 5 awaits tomorrow. The Pimm’s boat fared slightly better, achieving a solid row-over along with the crews ahead and behind them. They will start in the same order tomorrow, and will be hoping to at least equal today’s performance.
In Division 4, M3 looked to halt their downward slide, and managed it in style. Aware that they had been bumped by two of the fastest boats in the division, they had a strong start ahead of Christ’s III (their fellows’ boat) and matched their every push, preventing the veteran crew behind getting more than a whistle. Things got desperate for Christ’s on Plough Reach, as Corpus II pushed up on them, but unable to make ground on Selwyn, they were bumped outside the Plough. M3 continued the solid race pace they had held thus far, and gobbled up ground down the Long Reach, looking for the double overbump on Downing IV, who were making heavy work it. Sadly this feat proved a little too much, but M3 were within three lengths of Downing (from a starting station 11.5 lengths behind) at the finish. Tomorrow, they look to give Wolfson II their spoons, whilst denying Corpus II their blades.
With the overbump-and-a-half-ed Pembroke III behind them, whom they had so nearly caught on Day 1, W2 knew they could focus on trying to revenge themselves on Girton II. In the event, this proved too much, but a solid row-over ensued and they chase the same opposition tomorrow. On the other hand M2, after yesterday’s row-over found themselves between a falling Clare II and a climbing St Cat’s II: holding station on Clare through to Grassy, M2 found themselves losing ground to Cat’s slowly but surely. In the end, the Cat’s crew’s superior experience showed and they gained their bump as M2 rounded Ditton onto the Long Reach.
Having the previous day revenged themselves for what has become known as the ‘Historically Disputed Bump’ on Robinson in Mays 2010, M1 knew they would face a tougher challenge today chasing Churchill, not least because of a spooning Trinity Hall ahead of them. The result was one hell of a race, but unfortunately not in Selwyn’s favour: by Grassy all three crews were compressing, and round Ditton all three were pretty much overlapping. Churchill clipped Trinity Hall before Selwyn could finish the job though, forcing Selwyn to extricate themselves and row home, never threatened by Robinson behind. They will be hoping to take out some of their frustration on Trinity Hall themselves on the final day. W1 too are hopeful of a positive ending to the week, after a strong row-over today: never threatened by Magdalene behind, Selwyn made a brave attempt at keeping up with Peterhouse as they caught Girton, and were then left to chase a remote but not impossible overbump on Trinity Hall. They made up a lot of ground on a flagging Trinity Hall down the Long Reach (estimates of around 18 seconds), but didn’t quite have long enough to reel them all the way in. Tomorrow they have another shot at Girton, to whom they got so close on Day 2.
All in all, tomorrow looks promising – bring on the last day and Boat Club Dinner!
Another eventful day on the Cam, with exactly the same overall results as the first day for S.C.B.C.
The day started with the Hermes M4 boat restored to their sandwich boat position at the head of Division 6 thanks to a scratch from F.a.T. V higher up in Div. 5. A strong row over at head was followed by an impressive long-haul bump on Homerton III, which took from the Lock until Ditton. The Hermes boys will be hoping to continue their ascent today. The Pimm’s boat gave a much better showing of themselves on Day 2, gaining one whistle on Clare III, who had had the advantage of W3’s crash yesterday. Sadly, Emmanuel IV, who had overbumped the day before, were steadily pressing up on Selwyn, and despite some sturdy resistence from the girls, got the bump.
M3 were also looking to make up for a disappointing first day, hoping to hold off St Cat’s III for the course. Despite some pre-cannon drama ahead of us, with Wolfson II losing a gate on the row-up (they got it fixed in time, but still only held Jesus halfway down First Post reach), M3 had a much calmer and stronger start than yesterday, and settled into a good race rhythm. Cat’s began creeping up and though M3 held it together strongly, and made them fight all the way to the Gut, they were just unable to muster that extra 10% to start pushing away. Day 3 will see them attempt to learn from this with Christ’s III (their fellows’ boat) behind.
After Day 1’s disappointement, W2 were looking for a strong performance to give themselves another shot at Pembroke, whom they had nearly bumped on the first day. With a strong Girton II crew pushing from behind, W2 started well and a massive crab from St Cat’s ahead gave them hope of a revenge bump. Sadly, Girton gave it everything and managed to catch the girls just before they could hit Cat’s, who were parked on the bank. The resulting clearing led to Cat’s being trapped and granted a technical row-over, allowing Magdalene II to power through and get an unconventional ‘Overbump and A Half’ on Pembroke III, with the three crews between them out of action.
M2 knew that Darwin I would be more of a challenge than F.a.T. III had been, especially with a catchable Clare II ahead of them. A strong start saw them stay on station with Darwin and maintain that all the way through to the Railway bridge, where Darwin finally ground down Clare for the bump. A strong row-over for M2 though and high hopes for chasing Clare on Day 3. Meanwhile, F.a.T. behind them were bumped by Cat’s and caused a re-row of the entire division below 6th.
In the 2nd division, M1 continued their climb with a powerful bump on Robinson, who had given Peterhouse a long race the day before. Selwyn looked to finish the job early though, and a few strong shunts in the Gut, combined with some erratic steering from ‘Binson saw them get the bump just before Grassy. W1 had a similar fly or die attitude in their race, pushing well up into Girton, as Peterhouse pressed hard behind. With Selwyn hovering less than half a length off Girton’s stern, Peterhouse put in a push to finish it off though, and got the bump.
Mixed fortunes on the first day of the 2013 May Bumps for S.C.B.C., with two bumps, one row-over and four crews going down.
The first Selwyn boat in action was M4, representatives of the Hermes Club, who faced a tough row at the head of the 6th division being chased by Darwin III, their fellows’ boat. Their superior experience showed in both their rowing and their choice to wear lycra even in Division 6, and despite some solid racing from M4, Darwin caught them on Grassy (managing in the process to give the bow of Laurie a closer acquaintance with the bank than was ideal). Darwin went on to bump Homerton III as sandwich boat, so M4 will at least have a new target in their sights, although the scratching of FaT V has possibly led to some rejigging of the start order. The Hermes boat’s female counterparts, the Sirens Club, rowing as W3, definitely had circumstances against them in the 4th division: a rushed push-out, the strong headwind and then a snapped rudder line saw them career into the bank before really getting going in their race, leading to them being caught by Clare III. The girls will be hoping to acquit themselves better tomorrow.
Next up was the recently assembled, mostly MCR M3. With a swift Jesus III crew behind, it was a matter of trying to hit Darwin II in front as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, Jesus proved too fast, although a collision with Darwin, after they had bumped Wolfson II ahead, led to some confusion: Jesus’ bump was awarded at the time, but The Tab later reported (at 16.13), erroneously it seems, that the decision had been overruled and technical row-overs given instead.
Both the men’s and women’s second boats started strongly in their respective races in the 3rd divisions. W2 had three whistles on Pembroke III in the Gut, but couldn’t quite finish the job before St Catherine’s II behind them came back strongly for the Bump on Grassy Corner. M2 on the other hand took advantage of their strong start to reel in First and Third III and complete the bump just before entering Grassy.
And finally to the first boats: M1 raced first, chasing Downing II in the 2nd division. Downing put up a sturdy resistance, but Selwyn steadily ground them down, pushing inside a length by Grassy, and finally getting the bump on Ditton. W1 put in a solid performance in the 1st division, rowing over after crews bumped out ahead and behind them: having gained some ground on St Catherine’s in front, this was soon lost as Cat’s pushed into a flagging Girton, eventually catching them by the Plough. Tomorrow brings an interesting line-up with Selwyn getting a shot at Girton, while being chased from behind by Peterhouse, who caught Magdalene today.
A tentative start for S.C.B.C. all round, but one which bears some promise for the rest of the week!
UPDATE – Full race reports are now up on the website:
After a very difficult spinning maneuver in the Gut (with neither Marshalls nor cox seeming to realise the actual length of an VIII) W1 began Champs Head with a really strong start outside the Plough.
Our transition to rhythm was really solid as practiced and the crew held speed right round Ditton corner.
(no results on the best starts / best line round Ditton yet- always living in hope!)
The reach wasn’t anything bad, even in the wind the catches were going in and the pressure was there all the way through, but we just didn’t manage to take any real length out of Catz who started a minute ahead. Coming towards the Railway Bridge we hit a calm patch and really started to move, pushing every stroke to the finish.
With a time of 6:10 over the 1450m course our result wasn’t what we’d hoped for – but we now know that it’s aggression which is going to get us moving and taking the advantage of everything! An important lesson learnt.
***UPDATE – so, it turns out that we did end up with the best judged line overall around Ditton corner!!! Hope paying off!****
M1 4+, winners of IM3 4+ in 3:26 at Peterborough Regatta (note Will’s t-shirt…very accurate :))
M1 headed up to Peterborough last weekend to race in the 1k sprint regatta. We took an eight, four and pair to race in IM3 and I ended up subbing in for a Rob Roy novice double too.
Arriving just in time to bundle out of the van, rig up and jump on the water, the first race of the day in the eight perhaps didn’t go so well. With Churchill in our heat we thought we could lay down a marker, having set some pretty quick times over the course in training. However, for one reason or another we ended up rowing very short and sloppily as we settled out of the start and while we were level for the first 500m, they finished 3/4 length up. Still, that was just the heat and the final was yet to come.
In between the eight and the four a bit of inter-club swapping happened. Dave B-R subbed into the Churchill 4+ as one of their guys felt a bit off and I subbed into a Rob Roy double scull (my first sculling race since I parked on Grassy with Vicky!). As it was, the Churchill 4+ qualified for their final and in our race we moved easily away from the field to paddle home at rate 24. I was terrified that I’d cause the junior to lose a race he should easily win. Apparently, he was chuffed he didn’t come last!
The next Selwyn boat to race was the four. Lining up on the start line with a few technical problems (the seats jammed at 3/4 slide because the sliders were worn down) and having fumed and cursed our way to the start line we imagined we were about to get eaten in the heat. So it was surprising when twenty strokes into the race we had clear water! Rowing at 3/4 slide we held onto our lead despite a good push from Milton Keynes at the finish. We qualified fastest in 3:32 and with some quick repairs to Richard Budgett, felt confident about the final.
Meanwhile, the pair had gone out for a paddle of the main river to get used to rowing together. Unfortunately, Nick and Nigel found the pair difficult to steer straight due to the setup, and despite efforts to change it, we couldn’t get it just right. Perhaps Nick should have steered, given his fantastic efforts at the wheel of the CUSU minivan, and his natural homing beacon towards the nearest McDonald’s drive-through. In the heat the pair got away well but as expected, drifted across lanes and so wound it down to not affect the race.
Next up, Dave BR in the Churchill 4+ came third in the Novice 4+ finals. I can’t remember much of the race details. We’ll have to get him to debrief us on their tactics and capabilities before bumps!
Now, the big one…the IM3 8+ final. Well, its tough to know what happened really. We rowed up to the start with much more confidence than the heat, but the start was sloppy and we were down very quickly. Leicester and Churchill, two crews we were expecting to beat, got ahead and stayed ahead, as we came in a length down on Churchill. Congratulations to them, but we didn’t have time to moan. We had to jump straight into Budgett for the 4+ final.
Rowing down to the start line we had to get back into the underdog mentality that had worked in the heat – hard when you qualified quickest. Off the start we got another good getaway, striding to a long, punchy rhythm at 34. But we weren’t alone, De Montfort Leicester got away quicker and were 1/4 length up on us. Each push we did was matched and as it came to 750m it looked over. But Will screamed at us to finish it properly and in the following 200m we took a length out of them, finishing confidently ahead in 3:26. It was a great race and a good boost after the eight.
My final race in the double almost resulted in an unlikely win! The double from Deben RC appeared to have actually met each other before the race (surely unfair?) and sculled very well. This didn’t stop us taking a length lead into the 500m mark but as the mistakes started to creep in given my inexperience in a sculling boat they moved through us, winning by a length. Still, second place was not too shabby for a first row together and I think Callum was pleasantly surprised.
Overall it was a fantastic day of racing, and a good preparation for bumps. Short, sharp 1k pieces, and the amount of times you get to line up on that stake boat (six in total!) are great for confidence and experience before bumps. I’ve definitely felt the difference in the last couple of outings since. We’re now back with our full crew in the eight having had a couple of subs because of exams. Time to fine tune the little details before next week!
Hopefully Danny will give us a little piece on his racing at Met Regatta on Saturday and Sunday for the Dev squad, where he won the IM3 8+ in a very impressive field.
Peterborough also run a summer regatta in August, to which it would be great to get an alumni boat to. We could hop on the nines trailer on the Saturday, have a practice outing, camp overnight, then race on the Sunday. Its only 500m too so don’t worry if the legs aren’t quite what they were! Get in touch with the committee, or on the Facebook page if you’re interested in doing this!
As BumpIT reigning champion(!), my top tip is that Champs Head is the best Bumps predictor. Selwyn came 6th overall, beating M1 crews from Queen’s, Maggie, Clare, Jesus and FaT. Here’s a full race video with their flashy new GoPro.